Is there is such thing as friendship between a man and a woman? Needless to say, friendships differ. A friendly relationship between men breeds respect, friendship between women can be admired yet friendship between a man and a woman is often viewed with suspicion, mistrust and even enmity. Let us try to look into some of the reasons behind this attitude toward the phenomenon.
First, the concept of “friendship” is interpreted in a completely different way by men and women. The female kind of friendship largely implies a relationship based on trust. It is an open secret that women are inclined to pouring their hearts out to each other, they enjoy giving advice and debate a variety of subjects at length, whereas friendship between men is based on deeds. Men hate being filed under the weak or indecisive. Men would rather do something then talk about it. Did you often see a man speaking to his friend for hours? Or do you know any men who like discussing their upcoming fishing trip?
Second, both stereotypes and taboos are firmly fixed in our consciousness. We can understand and accept friendship between persons of one’s own sex. Friendship between a man and a woman is, without doubt, quite possible. There is nothing we can do about it since this form of a friendly relationship does exist. On the other hand, it is still unclear why some men seek friendship with women who do not belong to their inner circle, whereas women seem quite ready and willing to share views and emotions with their male colleagues and regard them as true friends.
The situation is easier to understand once there is a family sitting in the other cup of a balance.
Friendship can give us something that we cannot get from our family. For instance, we can talk with our friends about things which should not be touched upon when talking with our spouses or partners. A variety of “forbidden topics” often concerns our questionable behavior or improper actions, our innermost feelings and worries. It is hard to imagine a man telling his wife about another woman who has taken his fancy. It takes a lot to picture a man admitting that he blew lots of money playing roulette last night. Likewise, a woman may find it hard to tell his man that their sex life has been going from bad to worse, and she would rather be left alone for a while.
Friendship is a kind of escape that is good for men and women alike. It helps build a different kind of relationship where a mutual understanding between two people, “the perfect strangers” or so it seems, can reach the apogee of true friendship. It does not happen by accident. Men could do something for the sake of each other, it is understood. But they keep their secrets to themselves while doing so. The man would rather share his most intimate thoughts with his woman who does not always happen to be his wife.
“There’s always sex hiding away somewhere inside a friendly relationship between a man and a woman,” said Lilian Rubin, a sociologist. “A sexual undertone of friendship makes it especially attractive or even sensual. However, most men and women agree that sexual relations pose a real threat to their friendships because sex breeds a craving for possession, which can’t agree with the nature of friendship,” Rubin added. A good friend may turn into a lousy lover. There are men and women who have a knack for keeping sexual pleasure and friendship in perfect balance yet most heterosexual friends prefer to keep the above separated.
Translated by Guerman Grachev